Workplace Harrassment is Still a Reality

Joe Weinlick
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Despite laws that protect employees, workplace harassment is still a reality for millions of people. You may be the victim of this behavior and don't even realize it. Discover if this issue presents itself at your office and see what you can do about it.

Workplace harassment may take many forms. Your boss may demean you in front of others. Someone may leave you an offending email and talk about you behind your back. Your colleague may sabotage your work intentionally while others put you down in very public displays. Harassment isn't just about sexual harassment or someone making lewd passes at you.

Definition

Workplace harassment includes forceful tactics and restrained pressure that manifest as verbal, written or physical conduct that belittles an individual based on one or more factors. These factors can be motivated by a person's religion, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, disability and/or political affiliation.

Workplace harassment also means any behavior exhibited by other employees that makes you feel uncomfortable or unable to perform your basic job duties. You might even feel as if you don't want to come to work because the harassing behavior distresses you so much. These types of behavior are still a reality, and many co-workers may not even recognize that what they do is harassment. You have a right to complain about any harassing behavior you witness, whether it happens to you or to someone else.

Examples

Examples of harassment at work include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Using racist phrases
‌* Making offensive remarks regarding someone's disability
‌* Sharing inappropriate or suggestive images among employees
‌* Sexual innuendos
‌* Purposely demeaning someone's performance capabilities

Fighting Harassment

When you face this type of bad behavior at work, talk to someone you trust about it. Eventually, this problem should go to your company's HR department to handle the issue.

Human resources should become involved quickly and assess the situation. The department needs to find witnesses and take statements to determine what happened. After that, HR needs to investigate thoroughly and document everything. It also needs to take remedial action against anyone it determines violated the code of conduct or any potential labor laws.

Why This Issue Matters to Businesses and Business Professionals

Employees suffer psychological stress and even anxiety as a result of harassment at the office. Workers who witness harassment are less productive, and it could lead to higher costs for employers. This type of behavior could also lead to high turnover rates, which makes it harder for HR to keep good hires.

Employers should have written policies that cover workplace harassment. Executives and managers must lead by example when it comes to dealing with this issue. Instead of trying to cover something up, the employer must maintain transparency through the entire investigative process.

Workplace harassment isn't just demeaning to the people involved, it's a horrible situation that can spiral out of control quickly. Business leaders must take care of these issues quickly and completely to set everyone's mind at ease.


Photo courtesy of producer_johnmathews at Flickr.com

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